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Cow punker Angry Johnny explains his anger

By Dallas Clemmons, November 1996

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The band formed in 1991. The line-up includes Jim Joe Greedy on bass, Al Camino on guitar and Sleepy Animall Kaisla on drums.

Angry Johnny says, "We were pretty unaware of all this alternative country thing going on, and now it seems that everybody and their brother's doing it... I've never heard [Uncle] Tupelo in my life...I've heard of 'em, I knew about 'em, but I didn't even know what they did. I've heard The Jayhawks, but that's all recently when I've heard that stuff. It's funny, even out here now, every punk and every hardcore band has a little country side, it's really bizarre."

But Angry Johnny and the Killbillies are quite different from The Jayhawks. "It's...the punk stuff," as he puts it. "I guess we can't get away from it, because basically...we're not musicians, you know, no matter how hard we try to pretend to be. I'm not, that's for sure." It's also "the country stuff," too, though. Hankenstein is not only more punk than anything the Jayhawks did, it's also more country.

So why is Angry Johnny so Angry?

He doesn't hesitate to explain - and his anger at times seems like punk rage worthy of Johnny Rotten.

He wants to make it very clear, for instance, that the Killbillies are from western Massachusetts, not eastern. "We're out near Northampton. We play Boston a bit...Boston's a hard nut to crack if you're from western Mass...they really treat you like shit. It's been going on for like 20 years. You go to Boston and the Boston clubs, they find out you're from western Mass, and they got you by the short and curlies. It really sucks."

He's angry, too, at the way Hankenstein has been reviewed. "Some asshole in Gainesville Fla. says I'm contrived... I'm contrived. He hasn't lived my life, he doesn't know anything about me."

He does have some kind words for some of his contemporaries: "I would like to see a connection between us and the people that are on Dead Reckoning (an independent record company started by Kieran Kane and others), you know, they're much more cool...no matter how much you try to smooth [country music] over, you just can't. Garth Brooks is basically Billy Joel. But you ever hear Kieran Kane? That's a great album. And I absolutely love Lucinda Williams...her speech, her cadences, are incredible. She's so excellent."

Angry doesn't know what the future holds for his band, but his desire is simple: "I would like to stop driving a truck. I'd like go into a bar and play where people are actually waiting to hear the shit, hanging on what your singing. I'd like to be where Tom Waits is. The people are just waiting for the next thing he's going to do."

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